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Health Team

New Procedure Removes Varicose Veins Without Surgery

Posted December 10, 2007

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— Many people don't like to expose their legs because of varicose veins. They are not only unsightly, but can be painful. Surgery used to be the answer, but a newer option is less invasive.

Ben Britt, 29, said he thought he was too young to have varicose veins.

“You just get in bed at night and you just have this dull throbbing [pain],” Britt said.

“People that have varicose veins, they do so because their valves are leaky and blood is being diverted from the deep veins to the superficial veins,” Dr. Victor Medina said.

Valves in the veins keep blood flowing efficiently to the heart. When the veins don't work, the blood pools near the skin, and it becomes discolored and swollen.

Surgery, called vein stripping, can remove the diseased vein. When Britt discovered he could fix the problem without surgery, however, he went to Medina's Triangle Vein Clinic.

Britt said he was “actually pretty excited that something could be done about it.”

Medina uses ultrasound to find the vein, and then injects anesthetic above it, at the skin surface.

The catheter has a heating element, and beginning near the junction of the main femoral artery, a series of burns collapses and seals the vein.

The procedure is called Radio Frequency Ablation with a Closure Fast System. An older form of it took 20 minutes, but the procedure now can be done in three minutes.

“Once you're numbed up, it goes very fast,” Britt said.

The superficial veins Medina closes aren't necessary.

“And in fact, treating superficial veins allows the deep veins to be more efficient,” Medina said.

Britt has already noticed a difference.

“My one leg that has been treated some, versus my other leg, is less achy at night for sure,” he said.

After the catheter procedure, simple saline injections help erase the discoloration left in small veins at the skin surface.

9 Comments

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  • Lloyd Christmas Dec 12, 2007

    i had one in my right leg. Right calf to be exact. Went to Dr. Luan Tran at Vein Clinics of America. He is off Blue Ridge Road. I have United Healthcare and they covered the procedure. Easy procedure and not invasive at all. was in and out.

  • XLAW Dec 11, 2007

    I have varicose veins and from the constant throbbing know that I need a vein procedure. Is there anyone reading these comments with personal experience who could recommend procedures, clinics or doctors? Thanks....

  • Brindy Dec 11, 2007

    Sorry, should say "it won't be covered unless the bulging veins can be seen."

  • Brindy Dec 11, 2007

    I had these same issues and went to vein clinics of america. They said my right leg would require surgery b/c the vein was too small and blood was backwashing into my leg, causing the veins and unsightly 'sunburst' veins. Well insurance (BCBSNC)would not cover it b/c the pictures did not show the veins bulging out of my leg, that's what they want to see. So it doesn't matter if you're in a serious amount of pain, it would be covered unless the bulging veins can be seen. And even then it is very difficult to get it covered. You have to be able to prove that the pain impacts your daily living. I had the saline injections done on my left leg and that is considered cosmetic. I hate insurance companies!

  • JennyT Dec 11, 2007

    Me too...interested in insurance....

  • Stormy13 Dec 11, 2007

    My doctor has recommended that I see a "vein doctor" for my problem, would be interested in knowing the answers to the above questions, cost and whether insurance will cover the procedure?

  • devilblue Dec 11, 2007

    Wonder if insurances cover this or if it is considered cosmetic?

  • peacebee Dec 10, 2007

    definitely interested in that!

  • wdkanesfan Dec 10, 2007

    Wonder how much this procedure will cost? Seems like that should have been included in the story.